Diving Phuket – Image courtesy of beachlandthailand.com
Diving Phuket, Thailand
It’s not surprising that Phuket ranks among the top 10 scuba diving destinations in the world. Clear water, spectacular reefs, unusual underwater formations, caves, shipwrecks and a vibrant ecosystem teeming with marine life provide great diving opportunities at all levels.
Choose between a live-aboard dive cruise to experience a variety of dive locations – pet a docile whale shark, swim with manta rays, explore grottos and wrecks – or stay at a beach resort and take a day trip to one or two of the several local diving spots such as Racha Noi and stunning Phi Phi Island south of Phuket.
For the more adventurous, don’t miss the stunning Similans Islands, about 100km north-west of Phuket. With more than 20 chartered dive sites, the island chain has unspoiled beaches, magnificent coral growth and prolific fish life.
Or try a seven-day live-aboard trip north to the unspoiled Burma Banks on the Mergui Archipelago. The Burma Banks are enormous flat top sea-mounts rising from 300m to within 15m of the surface.
Coral type – Healthy hard coral gardens, lush soft coral, sea fans, sea anemones, gorgonians and nudibranchs.
Marine life – Leopard, white- and black-tipped sharks, grey reef sharks, whale sharks, barracuda, manta rays, moray eels, jack tuna, groupers, snappers and turtles. Lionfish, colourful clown fish, needle fish, long toms and stingrays. Burma Banks Bull, tiger, hammerhead, gray reef, tawny nurse, mako, white-tip, silvertip and black whaler sharks.
Reef type – Coral gardens, bommies, limestone walls, pinnacles, caves, grottos, tunnels and cliffs.
Type of dives – Reef dives, drift dives, caves, coral gardens, wrecks, drop-offs and night dives.
Water temperature – 28˚C
Visibility Up to 40m.
Suit – 3mm full-length wetsuit in summer; 5mm full-length wetsuit in winter.
Water entry – Shore, boat and live-aboard. For the serious scuba diver, Phuket’s live-aboard dive safaris offer spacious, fully equipped customised dive boats and air-conditioned cabins complete with mini-bar, toilet and shower. Entertain yourself with on-board amenities while travelling between dive sites.
Dive centres – Several dive centres are offered, with professional guides. Competition has created a very high standard of safety, training, quality equipment and facilities.
Dive courses – A full range of courses is available, from beginner to advanced including PADI refresher, rescue, divemaster and several specialty courses. For beginners, Phuket offers great training areas for dive classes right off the beach in Kata, and those at Patong Bay, Freedom Beach, Paradise Beach and Bang Tao Beach offer easy diving in shallow water (5m) close to shore.
Equipment – Quality dive equipment is available for rent.
Caution – Strong currents make exploring some of the offshore sites a challenge if you are not with an experienced guide. Some sites require an advanced diving licence.
Top dive attractions of Phuket
Anemone Reef – Famous for lionfish, sometimes seen in groups of 12 or more.
Hin Daeng (Red Rock) – Pinnacle drops off almost straight down to a depth of over 60m, making it the deepest wall dive in Thailand. Expect huge schools of jack tuna.
Hin Muang – Among Thailand’s best dive spots for both whale and grey reef sharks, seen often in groups of a dozen or more.
Other activities Phuket offers an amazing variety of day and nighttime activities for everyone ride an elephant on a jungle safari at Khao Sok National Park, spot monkeys and birds; sea kayak around Phang Nga Bay; or relax on a junk.
Charter a boat and fish for barracuda and dorado or go rock-climbing in nearby Krabi. In the evening take in a colourful Thai dance show and later relax over suburb Thai cuisine at one of the many beach restaurants or hit a go-go bar or disco at Patong Beach and dance the night away.
Read more about Phuket. . .
Best time to dive Phuket
Year round but best between November and May. The average temperature range is from 27˚C to 36˚C.